Zuckerberg: Facebook to Focus on ‘Building New Experiences,’ New Products

After a two-year apology tour, Facebook is changing strategy: It’s going to go all-out building new stuff again.

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A mere day after Facebook was exposed for paying teens to show it their deepest phone-use secrets — the latest in a seemingly endless stream of scandals — the company reported 9% year-on-year user growth, along with profits that vastly outstripped analyst estimates. User numbers were also up in all regions. Facebook’s stock rose 11% on the news.

During Facebook’s Q4 2018 earnings call Wednesday evening, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that Instagram Stories has crossed more than half a billion daily users. The growth marks a significant increase from June of last year when Instagram announced that Stories reached 400 million daily active users.

Zuckerberg also took the opportunity to outline several areas where Facebook will push new products this year.

One important area that the company vows to give more focus to is end-to-end encryption for its products, which will be turned on by default. Additionally, Zuckerberg said Facebook plans to make more of its products ephemeral as part of its broader privacy-oriented goals.

Support for payments through its messaging app WhatsApp will also be expanded to more countries in addition to India. The Facebook chief, however, didn’t reveal specifics about the service’s regional availability in the future.

In addition to the updated Stories user count, the social media giant also noted that it’s working on more private sharing options for its Stories tools, while Instagram specifically will soon see new commerce and shopping features.

“I’m talking about major improvements to people’s lives that whole communities recognize and say, ‘Wow, we’re all doing something new on Facebook or on WhatsApp that we weren’t doing before,'” Zuckerberg explained.

Finally, Zuckerberg confirmed his plans to integrate the messaging platforms of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, although he said the plans will have to wait till at least 2020.

“The integration that we’re thinking about, we’re really early in thinking through this,” Zuckerberg said on the company’s Q4 earnings call. “There’s a lot more we need to figure out.”